Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Flagging Lavender, and Old Guard

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Hanky code: Lavender.QUESTIONS:-Does anyone know what it really mean?-Does it really exist within the Old Guard community?
Papa Tony:

Oh, lordy.  This again.  Sigh.

All right, then.

Back in the 70's, there were a LOT of gay people moving into large cities.  I referred to the "Gay Neighborhoods" as "Refugee Camps". Many, MANY gay/queer/trans people were fleeing the closed-minded, intolerant areas and establishing the Gay Ghettos, such as "Boy's Town" (West Hollywood) in Los Angeles, Hillcrest in San Diego, and the Castro and South of Market (Leather) areas of San Francisco.

Folks lost all desire to live in Squaw's Ass Idaho, or Chicken Leg, Nebraska. They picked their coastal major urban center and MOVED as soon as they could get mobile, and never looked back.

As more and more people came pouring in to the ghetto, buying up the old houses and fixing them up ("gentrifying"), the housing got too expensive to buy in the heart of the ghetto, so folks started expanding into outlying areas.  However, in the HEART of the ghetto, an enormous number of bathhouses, shops, boutiques, bistros and BARS started opening up to cater to a very, very gay clientele.

It was heaven, for a while. It was pure sexual adventure, all day, every day.  It was common to refer to each other as "numbers", as in "What do you think of that number over there?  I'd fuck him, even with your dick!"  In case it isn't obvious, the number referred to, was as in "Now Serving Number 64".  Yes, things really were that sexual.

In a crowded street, or a VERY crowded bar (one of very many in the city), you had thousands of possible sexual prospects.  You didn't have time to WASTE on idle chit-chat, flowers, boxes of candy, or four hours of buying drinks for the handsome stranger who you finally got into bed with, only to find that he was NOT a good sexual match for your particular tastes.

So, the hankie code was started.  Made it REALLY easy to spot an ideal prospect, hook up fast, throw his pretty ass out the door, take a Disco Nap (a nap that allowed you to stay up later on the dance floor that night), and get ready for the next man.

Many folks don't know this, but in the earliest days of wearing bandannas in the back pockets, or Sam Browne belt on your torso, or keys on your belt-loop, or gauntlets on your wrist, or armbands on your bicep:

On the East Coast, the sides were reversed from what was happening on the West Coast.  In New York for a short time, Tops flagged on the right, and bottoms on the left.  The West Coast won out, and from then on, Tops are on the left, and bottoms are on the right.

So - having established the background, and getting back to your actual question:

The ONLY colors of bandannas being sold everywhere back then (supermarkets, drug stores, Army/Navy surplus stores, porn shops and book stores) were:

- Black (SadoMasochist)
- Dark Blue (Ass Fucking)
- Hunter Green (Daddy/boy)
- Light Blue (Cocksucking)
- Gray (Bondage)
- Yellow (Piss)
- Red (Fist Fucking), and
- White (I have a Cold)
I heard of Brown (scat) eventually, but I'm not aware of anybody actually flagging brown until the early 1990's.

We thought that was a LOT.  This was rock-solid, and unchangeable.  NOBODY tried any other colors.  Period.  Besides that: There was no manufacturer MAKING any other colors!

Then, when folks did a lot of dying, and the bathhouses closed, and the Internet came along, and the bars closed, and the vast areas around the "Gay Neighborhood" became more and more diverse and open-minded for EVERYBODY, then folks started dicking around with the color charts.  They added more, and more, and more choices, and posting them online.  They made a fun project out of it:

Us old guys thought it was hilarious, to hear about "Gold Polka Dots on White" and the like.  In our experience, if one, isolated person was flagging an unusual color, they'd have had to spend the whole night having to explain what their colors meant, dozens of times, and not getting any nibbles. Seemed kinda pointless.

The actual fact is, what we did was new, and PRIMITIVE, back then.  We were making it up as we went along. We had NO experience, or fetishes for:

- Furries
- Puppies
- Latex
- Urethral Sounds
and a lot more fetishes that have become exciting and widespread in the Internet years.

So, the reason for the sigh:

Too many people read the "Old Guard" comic book, and not knowing any better, thought that it was the Bible.  Please don't assume that the old ways were somehow better, or wiser, or more rigorous.  We were living in a big, messy and constant flow of upward growth, but it was not in any way structured.  What people assume are true and long-lasting Olde Guarde protocols, were actually practiced back then by maybe one percent of the kinky gay-male Leathermen's community.  If that.

Why do newer folks follow the old precepts so avidly now?  I assume that it's because a few folks wrote books, unlike the majority of the rest of us, who didn't.  Just about everything else in our historical record was lost during the bad years, so this becomes the entirety of the story for the folks who weren't there.

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